Preventing Breast Cancer: 20 Ways

Preventing Breast Cancer: 20 Ways

The exact cause of breast cancer is still not definitively known. However, the presence of risk factors increases the likelihood of developing this disease. Therefore, preventing breast cancer can be achieved by eliminating these risk factors.

Some factors that contribute to the development of breast cancer cannot be changed. For example, genetics and family history of the disease are non-modifiable. However, modifying lifestyle is one of the best ways to prevent breast cancer. Avoiding alcohol and smoking, consuming healthy and nutritious foods, and controlling underlying diseases such as diabetes, help improve your lifestyle. To have a healthier life, familiarizing yourself with ways to prevent breast cancer will be a suitable solution.

Various factors play a role in the development of breast cancer. Today, we want to talk about ways to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer and prevent it.

There are many actions that can be taken to prevent breast cancer. Weight control, engaging in physical activities, regular check-ups, choosing a proper diet, and avoiding alcohol are among the most important steps in preventing breast cancer. In this article, we discuss the importance of each of these factors in the process of developing breast cancer.

Breast Cancer: What You Need to Know

Breast cancer refers to the formation of malignant tumors in breast tissue. These tumors initially develop locally. As the tumor grows larger and the disease progresses, the possibility of cancer cells migrating to other tissues exists. This condition is called metastatic breast cancer.

The exact cause of breast cancer is still unknown. However, the presence of certain risk factors increases the risk of developing this disease. Factors such as individuals’ genetics, family history, alcohol consumption and its derivatives, smoking, and early menstruation are considered risk factors for this disease. Any factor that can increase the level of progesterone in women’s bodies can also be considered a risk factor for developing this disease.

What are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is accompanied by some symptoms. Although the best time to diagnose this disease is before the onset of symptoms. In fact, if the disease is diagnosed during check-ups, screenings, and with the help of mammography and ultrasound imaging, it will be a more appropriate time. Therefore, it is better to take breast cancer screening seriously.

However, even observing symptoms alone cannot be a reason for breast cancer. In fact, a person who observes visible signs should consult a specialist physician for necessary follow-ups. Some of the most important visible symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • Feeling a lump in breast tissue
  • Thickening of the skin of the breast
  • Change in shape and size of the breast
  • Abnormal discharge from the nipple
  • Retraction of the nipple inward
  • Peeling or inflammation in the nipple and areola area (the brown area around the nipple)
    Redness of the breast skin and the appearance of dimples resembling orange peel on it.

It is important to note that the presence of these symptoms requires further evaluation. Therefore, if you notice these symptoms, do not worry and consult a specialist physician as soon as possible. A definitive diagnosis of this disease requires more precise medical examinations.

Why is Early Detection Important in Breast Cancer Prevention?

Preventing breast cancer is almost impossible. However, it can be controlled with early detection of this disease. In most cases, screening for breast cancer helps in early detection of breast cancer. This means that individuals over the age of 30 should undergo regular breast examinations. In this case, if a malignant tumor has grown in breast tissue, it will be diagnosed in the shortest possible time. As a result, the person will undergo successful treatment, often in the short term.

How to Perform a Breast Exam in Front of a Mirror?

Self-examination of the breast, along with regular examinations by a doctor, can help in the early diagnosis of breast diseases. You can ask your doctor to teach you how to perform a breast self-exam in front of a mirror. In the following article, we will discuss some tips on how to perform a breast exam in front of a mirror.

The first step in breast self-examination

First, stand in front of a mirror and place your hands on your hips. Compare the shape, size, and color of your breasts with each other. If you notice a difference in size or an unusual change in shape, you should follow up on the issue. Examine the nipples for peeling or the presence of eczema-like conditions. Note that the areola area should not be peeling.

The second step in examining the breast in front of the mirror

In the second step of breast self-examination, raise your hands up and again examine for swelling or changes in skin color in the tissues under the armpit and near the breasts. If you notice any new signs or unusual symptoms that were not present before, follow up on this issue. Stand on each side in front of the mirror and completely inspect your left and right sides.

The third step in breast self-examination

The presence of abnormal discharge from the nipple can be a sign of breast cancer. Therefore, make sure there is no such discharge. Gently press the nipples to ensure there is no abnormal discharge (other than mother’s milk).

It is worth mentioning that sometimes the presence of discharge is due to benign masses such as breast cysts. Therefore, there is no need to worry, and you should just visit a reputable specialist physician for further evaluation.

How to Perform a Breast Exam While Lying Down?

In this stage of breast examination, lie down on the ground and place your right hand above your head. Then, using the three middle fingers of your left hand, touch all parts of the right breast tissue in a circular motion. Note that the breast tissue is somewhat firm, and you should not mistake it for a mass.

Repeat the same process for the left breast. If you have difficulty performing a breast exam at home, you can ask a healthcare provider for help. If you are going to a specialist physician for breast cancer screening, ask them about the correct methods of breast self-examination.

The Importance of Weight Control in Breast Cancer Prevention

Many studies have been conducted on the factors contributing to breast cancer. The results of these studies show that being overweight significantly increases the risk of breast cancer. One of the main reasons for this is an increase in the level of estrogen in the body. In fact, the imbalance of estrogen and progesterone hormones in women’s bodies is considered one of the main factors in developing breast cancer. Therefore, it is necessary to eliminate any process that increases estrogen production.

Eliminating excess weight and maintaining a balanced body weight will play an important role in preventing breast cancer.

The Role of a Proper Diet in Breast Cancer Prevention

Generally, nutrition plays a very effective role in reducing the risk of various cancers, especially breast cancer. Experienced physicians usually emphasize having a high-fiber diet. Because these foods promote digestive health and make food digestion easier. This will prevent weight gain and obesity in the long run.

Everyone, especially those with risk factors for breast cancer, should consider consuming the following foods in their diet:

  • Low-fat foods
  • High-fiber foods
  • Avoiding excessive salt intake
  • Eliminating or reducing the consumption of canned foods
  • Reducing red meat consumption
  • Using low-calorie foods
  • High-fiber foods play a significant role in preventing the formation of benign or malignant tumors. Usually, foods such as leafy vegetables, red bell peppers, yellow and orange bell peppers, and carrots have a high percentage of carotenoids. This will be effective in preventing breast cancer.

Other foods such as sulforaphane or lycopene found in vegetables also help prevent breast cancer. Therefore, it is necessary to include vegetables as a main food group in your diet plan. Read the article on foods that are beneficial for breast cancer.

The Impact of Physical Activities and Regular Exercise in Breast Cancer Prevention

Moderate to vigorous physical activity regulates or increases body metabolism. This is very important for weight control and achieving an ideal body shape. Adults usually need to allocate at least 150 to 300 minutes per week to exercise and physical activities.

Maintaining an ideal weight through physical activity and exercise also controls estrogen secretion in the body. The more hormonal balance is achieved in the body, the lower the risk of breast cancer. Therefore, exercise is an important factor in breast cancer prevention.

Not consuming alcohol and preventing breast cancer

Alcohol consumption can be considered a major risk factor for breast cancer. Therefore, eliminating alcohol can be a significant step in preventing breast cancer. This issue has been confirmed in research related to breast cancer.

The importance of breastfeeding in preventing breast cancer

It can be boldly stated that one of the important options for preventing breast cancer is breastfeeding. According to statistics, breastfeeding reduces about 10% of the risk of breast cancer. During breastfeeding, the volume of estrogen secretion in the body decreases. Therefore, by breastfeeding, besides helping the baby grow, you prevent excessive estrogen production in your body.

Undergoing regular screenings for breast cancer prevention

In recent years, the rate of breast cancer has increased significantly. Therefore, reputable doctors such as Dr. Farhad Mousazadeh usually emphasize on screening for breast cancer. Regular screenings including physical examinations, ultrasound, and mammography cannot prevent breast cancer. However, it will help in early detection of this disease.

Certainly, the earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the treatment measures will be planned faster. As a result, it prevents the progression of the disease and increases the treatment outcome.

Using non-hormonal treatment methods after menopause

One of the ways to prevent breast cancer in women is to avoid hormonal therapy after menopause. Generally, hormonal therapy after menopause increases the risk of breast cancer. Therefore, to prevent breast cancer, it is necessary to talk to your doctor about non-hormonal treatment options. This issue is particularly important for individuals who have risk factors for breast cancer.

Preventing breast cancer in women with risk factors for breast cancer

So far, we have referred to general measures to prevent breast cancer. Many people, for various reasons, such as the following cases, have a higher potential for breast cancer:

  • Genetic factors
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Presence of inherited genetic mutations BRCA1 and BRCA2
  • Having breast-related diseases
  • No experience of pregnancy
  • Early menstruation or menopause
  • Late menopause

These individuals can receive other measures to prevent breast cancer from a specialist doctor. Some of the most important of these measures include the following:

  • Undergoing breast cancer screening
  • Genetic counseling and testing for the risk of breast cancer
  • Use of drugs that reduce the risk of breast cancer
  • Performing prophylactic surgeries
  • Search for early signs of breast cancer through careful observation

In the following article, we will discuss the importance of each of the preventive measures for breast cancer in individuals with risk factors.

Using appropriate medications to prevent breast cancer

Usually, for individuals who have risk factors for breast cancer, taking medication helps prevent breast cancer. However, this depends on the general condition of the patient and the type of risk factor. For this reason, it is necessary to be examined by an experienced and reputable specialist doctor before anything else.

Among the drugs that are effective in preventing breast cancer, we can mention Tamoxifen and Raloxifene. The use of these drugs reduces the action of estrogen in breast tissue. Tamoxifen is recommended for women who are premenopausal. But for women who are going through menopause, Raloxifene would be a more suitable option.

Among these, there are other drugs known as aromatase inhibitors. This type of drug is suitable for women after menopause.

It should be noted that all drugs used to prevent breast cancer may have their own side effects. For this reason, it is necessary to obtain sufficient information about the benefits and potential risks of using such drugs before taking them. Your doctor will be the best source of information in this regard. You can consult with Dr. Farhad drmoussazadeh for more information in this regard.

Preventive surgeries for preventing breast cancer

In limited cases, preventive surgery can help prevent breast cancer. Usually, for women who have mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, preventive mastectomy may be recommended. However, it is emphasized that such surgeries will only be prescribed for women at very high risk of breast cancer.

Generally, mutations in these genes are also a common factor in ovarian cancer. Therefore, usually during preventive mastectomy, the ovaries will also be removed. This way, the individual becomes protected against both breast and ovarian cancer.

However, it should be noted that preventive surgery cannot completely eliminate the risk of breast cancer. In fact, while this method is useful for preventing breast cancer, it has its own specific side effects. For this reason, it is better to consult with your doctor about the possible side effects and outcomes of this type of cancer prevention method.

Thorough examination for signs of breast cancer

Many women may not opt for any of the mentioned measures to prevent breast cancer. For example, the side effects of medications or preventive surgeries will discourage them from such methods. In such cases, individuals can use breast cancer screening methods.

Generally, the best approach to prevent breast cancer in all individuals, with or without risk factors, is regular and thorough examination by a breast specialist. To implement this approach, consider the following:

Start breast screening with mammography at a young age

Use of MRI imaging in necessary cases to complete breast cancer screening
Regular visits to the doctor at 6 to 12-month intervals for physical examination and continuous risk assessment
Keep in mind that screening cannot help prevent breast cancer. However, this process plays an important role in early detection of breast cancer. Because the earlier cancer is detected in its non-advanced stages, the easier it is to treat. Also, the patient can return to their normal life after a relatively short period.

Preventing breast cancer with genetic counseling

Genetic breast cancer occurs due to genetic mutations. In fact, individuals who develop hereditary breast cancer inherit mutated genes from their parents. Genetic testing can help diagnose the presence of these mutated genes. However, genetic testing does not help prevent breast cancer. But the doctor’s awareness of the level of risk will increase. This test has its own advantages and disadvantages. For this reason, it is better to consult with your specialist before undergoing such tests.

For example, genetic mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are inherited from parents to offspring. These types of gene mutations make women more likely to develop breast, pancreatic, ovarian, and some other cancers. It is worth noting that mutated BRCA genes can also lead to breast, pancreatic, and prostate cancers in men.

Why does genetic counseling help prevent?

Genetic counseling helps assess your risk of developing breast cancer. This is usually done through various charts and models. However, the results of these models cannot be considered accurate. Nevertheless, it will create a good mental background about the level of risk and methods of preventing breast cancer.

For individuals with a family history of breast cancer, the risk of developing breast cancer is high. In fact, women with a family history of breast cancer are more at risk of developing this type of cancer than others. However, other factors will also be effective in such cases, some of which include:

The number of family members who have been affected by breast cancer so far
The age of breast cancer patients in the family
The ratio of breast cancer patients to the individual (for example, the presence of cancer in close relatives such as mother or sister compared to distant relatives will increase the risk of developing cancer)
In any case, genetic testing examines the presence of defective genes and assesses the possibility of developing cancer.

Genetic testing for breast cancer prevention

Genetic testing to measure the risk of breast cancer is performed on blood or saliva samples. Sometimes, sampling from the inner cheek may also be done.

In genetic testing, all potential mutations that have occurred in the BRCA genes are examined. If there is a history of breast cancer among family members, the presence of mutations in that specific gene will be investigated. However, if there is no history of breast cancer, a general examination of the BRCA genes will be conducted. Although there are other genes as well in which mutations can increase the risk of breast cancer. Genes such as PTEN and TP53 are among the most important gene groups. Read the tumor markers article in breast cancer.

Who is recommended to undergo genetic testing for cancer?

Not all individuals who have breast cancer need to undergo genetic testing. However, it is better for the following individuals to undergo genetic testing:

Individuals with triple-negative breast cancer

Individuals who have been diagnosed with breast cancer in both breasts
Those with a family history of ovarian, pancreatic, or prostate cancer
Individuals who have been diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age.

Does menopause increase the risk of breast cancer?

Menopause itself does not pose a risk to women. However, individuals who have been affected by obesity and severe overweight are at risk of developing breast cancer. Therefore, reaching menopause, having a low-calorie diet helps prevent breast cancer. Increasing physical activity will also help reduce weight and improve your physical health.

Another point is that individuals who reach menopause late are at higher risk of developing breast cancer. According to research, the more menstrual cycles a person has during their lifetime, the higher their risk of breast cancer. Therefore, early menarche, no pregnancy during life, and late menopause are considered risk factors for breast cancer.

Is there a link between birth control pills and breast cancer?

Research shows that the use of hormonal contraceptives increases the risk of breast cancer. Regardless of whether you use progestin-only or estrogen-progestin combination hormonal medications, this risk exists.

It may be better to undergo breast cancer screening at shorter intervals with the start of these medications. However, you must consult with your doctor about the use of hormonal contraceptives and prevention of breast cancer during their use. It may be necessary to use a more appropriate contraceptive method.

Dos and don’ts of diet for breast cancer prevention

Having a complete and nutritious diet is beneficial for preventing breast cancer. A complete diet should include fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Additionally, consuming antioxidant-containing foods will prevent various types of cancer.

Drinking alcohol and alcoholic beverages are risk factors for breast cancer. Therefore, it is better to avoid consuming these substances. Especially if you have a history of breast disease or if there is a history of breast cancer in close family members.

Visit to a breast specialist

To undergo the steps mentioned in this article, you must visit a qualified breast specialist. You can see the contact information for Dr. Mousazadeh in the contact us section, who has 2 years of experience in breast surgery and is serving patients and clients.

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